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The One and Only!

(5)

Sermon shared by Klaus Mehrl

May 2005
Summary: A sermon preached on Trinity Sunday. Deals with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s refusal to bow to the golden image, but to worship the true God.
Denomination: Lutheran
Audience: General adults
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Sermon:
In the 3rd chapter of Daniel we’re told, "King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he sent messages to the princes, prefects, governors, advisers, counselors, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. When all these officials had arrived and were standing before the image King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, a herald shouted out, "People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace." So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up".. (Dan. 3:1-7). The whole nation was in a stir. The king had called for a national day of prayer. You could say it was a national holiday because all government officials up to and not including the King’s court were to worship the golden image, and so all government offices were closed that day.

The herald who made the announcement simply stated what everyone knew was a fact of life in the new nation of Babylon. The nation was a multi-cultural society with Assyrians, Hittites, Hurrians, Medes, Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Jews. And there were other cultures, nations, and languages as well. The people of this new nation had more than 200 gods that they worshiped and followed. So the king’s goal was pretty clear: Bring this multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-language society to a new national reality and to a new world order.

Nebuchadnezzar’s national reality and new world order would be that each person would worship the one god, the golden image, as well as their own personal gods. The golden image wasn’t given a name, so everyone could in their own minds believe whatever they wanted. The golden image would signify that everyone worshiped the same god but only with different names. The king knew, of course, that the people would continue to worship the five to six gods they already had, but that was OK! Just as long as they also worshiped the golden image.

And so, all those of importance were assembled on the plain. The king’s high officials were there, but they weren’t asked to worship. Nebuchadnezzar’s high officials, including Daniel, were men that the king could trust. He knew from having had worked with Daniel closely about his strong faith and his rock-solid conviction in the God of Israel. Daniel wouldn’t bow, no matter what! The king knew the political realities and loyalties. But if Daniel’s friends worshiped the golden image, it would still have the same effect of supporting the one national god regardless.

The national worship service music began. All the people bowed down in front of the image except for three men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. What an outrage! What an insult! How politically incorrect! The king couldn’t overlook something like that! But he did give the three one more chance to comply.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have rationalized. They could have said, well, just this once. This is
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